#NoDAPL, a symbol of the fight against fossil fuels.
The Dakota Access Pipeline project consists of building an approximately 1825km long pipeline in the United States, across 4 states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. The project has been questioned, as its route passes close to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. What began as a local protest became the biggest Native American protest movement in the modern history of the U.S. , and due to media coverage, it became the symbol of the fight against fossil fuels policies.
The project is governed by a company, Energy Transfer Partners. Once completed, it is estimated that it will carry 570,000 barrels of crude oil a day across the 4 states.
First of all, the project represents a threat for the locals …
The first effect caused by the project is the one on the local environment, and mainly the Missouri River. Being the primary source of water for the reservation, the people are worried about risks of water contamination, oil leaks, and pollution. That’s why they are calling themselves, not protesters, but “water protectors”, and why people are supporting them on the internet with the hashtag #waterislife.
The construction will also take place in several sacred sites and old cemeteries. Dave Archambault II, leader of the Sioux Tribe gave out the following strong statement in front of the United Nations Humans Rights Council, where he said: “Oil companies are causing deliberate destruction of our sacred places.” In a moving column in the NY Times, he also declared: “Whether it’s gold from the Black Hills or hydropower from the Missouri or oil pipelines that threaten our ancestral inheritance, the tribes have always paid the price for America’s prosperity.”
… And for the environment.
Ecologist organizations fear that the construction of the pipeline will be seen as an encouragement towards fossil fuels energy exploitation, while the world has already turned towards energetic transition. Ecowatch, a website specialized in environmental issues, claims that the pipeline will have a terrible impact in terms of greenhouse gas emission: 101.4 million metric tons of CO2 will be emitted per year.
However, according to the official website of Energy Transfer, the pipeline is supposedly a “cost effective, safer, and environmentally responsible” solution. The website also stresses the company’s support for the local environment, a top priority in the project, and brags about the assumed relationship between the company and “the community, landowners and other interested stakeholders.”
In order to dispute the project, the tribes have filed a lawsuit at the end of July, arguing that this project will have drastic and lasting effects on “environmental and economic well-being”. In September, in response to the lawsuit and large protests, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in charge of the legal matters around the permits, decided to temporarily halt the construction for this portion of the pipeline. A decision is yet to be announced concerning the outcome.
An attempt at peaceful protestation.
The protesters have built a camp near the construction site, with tipis and tents, and do not intend to move before a proper legal decision has been rendered concerning their rights. The violent actions of law enforcement have been criticized, and protesters have requested that the U.S attorney general investigates alleged strip-searches, dog attacks, and pepper spraying incidents. Many public figures have already taken a stand to support the Native Americans and defend the environment, such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Matt McGorry, as well as the actress Shailene Woodley who was arrested by the police and strip-searched.
Trump’s election : an uncertain future.
The recent victory of Donald Trump as U.S president has increased concerns over the project. Not only are his opinions about climate change and global warming skeptical, but his ties with the company in charge of the pipeline will probably lead to a biased treatment of the case under his administration. Indeed, Energy Transfer Partners donated a sum of more than 100,000$ to his campaign, and Trump has invested in the company.
If you want to follow the updates regarding the protest, just check out the #NoDAPL hashtag on social media.
If you want to see the life on protest camps, you can check this coverage from the BBC: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-37249617
To read the declaration of the Sioux’ leader: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/25/opinion/taking-a-stand-at-standing-rock.html?_r=0
And the speech in front of the UN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dW0d_WsuL0Y